Life Sentences

A stitch in time 1A stitch in Time

Performance, Dartington Hall (2003),

Film version 2013, CAZ’s Dublin Square Eyes  or online:

Using a series of maxims and proverbs about motherhood, a series of metaphorical actions were created to explore motherhood as an institution, and the language that contains and condemns women. These visual sentences were made to enunciate the lived experience of motherhood, in order to escape its confinement.

Sentences are a series of words arranged to convey sense but may refer to a term in prison. Maxims and proverbs are simultaneously sentences conveying  sense, and non-sense. The disjunction, and collusion between the sentences used and performed using site time and objects, becomes a collection of actions that rub together physical, and symbolic performed meaning.

The expectation and imposition of motherhood is exacerbated by cultural norms and expectation. Mothers are often censured, blamed and removed from public life. Language confines and contains mothers in the same way that life sentencing for criminals, removes them from ‘normal society’.

Representation of the maternal is deeply problematic, and this work explores disjunctions with lived reality, as well as potential for aberrant non-stereotypical representation. Each maxim (the root of the word meaning doom and condemnation), is parodied and subverted in the hope that we can all ‘escape the prison house of language’ (Vincent Leich).

Short actions performed over the course of a day were :Actions speak louder than words; What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the grave; A stitch in time saves nine; Necessity is the mother of invention;It’s no use crying over spilt milk;Time is a great teacher but unfortunately it kills all its pupils;Defenceless as babies are, they have their mothers at their command;The precursor of the mirror is mother’s face; The pot calling the kettle black.